This post is a look back on my life, with one sentence about one important event that occurred during each year of my life so far:
1961 – I was born, duh!
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis
1963 – Kennedy Assassinated
1964 – The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show
1965 – By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers were in Vietnam
1966 – I enter Kindergarten
1967 - Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black Supreme Court justice
1968 – Martin Luther King Assassinated
1969 – Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin walk on the moon
1970 – National Guardsmen kill four Kent State students during a protest
1971 – Intel introduces the microprocessor
1972 – Nixon goes to China
1973 – Cease fire signed in Vietnam
1974 – Nixon resigns
1975 – Saturday Night Live premiers with host George Carlin
2008 – The federal bailouts begin as the US elects its first African-American president
2009 – The bailouts continue and expand as unemployment increases to 8.1%, the highest level since 1983
2010 – I meet the woman I will marry in 2012
2011 – Occupy Wall Street
On my FAQ post, the responses were mainly about my smile. I thought I’d try and share with you some of the most memorable encounters I’ve had with people due to my smile.
As a kid, it was a non-issue for my friends and family. It was just how I smiled. It was a part of me that made me unique. I had a few negative experiences, one of which comes readily to mind. It was easy to find people to play a baseball game in the Presbyterian Church field. It wasn’t really a baseball diamond – we just made it that way. One day, after months and months of my ignoring this kid who kept calling me “crooked lip,” I cracked and called him by his middle name. He threw down his glove and came toward me ready to kick my ass. I stood my ground and said, “You’ve been calling me “crooked lip” for a long time and I didn’t do anything about it. This is the first time I called you by the name your parents gave you and you want to fight me? That’s pathetic!” He backed down, walked back to his position and never talked to me again.
When I was younger, my mom sent us to the Fraser’s house while she was at the hospital delivering babies (I think it was Carl but it could have been Mark & Martie). All I know is that I was standing up in the rope swing hanging from the Fraser’s tree. My brother, Doug came out and decided to spin me around. I guess when I yelled “STOP” he heard “SPIN FASTER!” I couldn’t hold on and I flew face first onto the sidewalk. To make a long story short, I broke my nose and I lost about 5 baby teeth. The rushed me to the hospital and I ended up needing surgery to put my face back together. The first thing I found out about after I got out of the hospital was that Mr. & Mrs. Fraser wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t ruined! I thought that was really weird at the time, but now it’s a fond memory.
While in boot camp in the Army, I met people from all across the country. This was my first experience meeting a large group of new people who I thought must have seen my smile as an oddity. No one said anything or asked about it until one day, with a big grin on his face, a fellow soldier gave me a nickname. He said, “I’m going to call you Turnip.” When I asked why, he said, “Because your lip turns up when you smile!” I laughed hard at that one!
Since then, there have been random strangers asking me about it. As I age, people have started asking me when I had my stroke. I just tell them I was born with it and that’s the end of the conversation. One time recently, I was sitting at a bar. Next to me was a guy with a hearing aid who seemed roughly my age. We started talking and it turns out that he was an artilleryman for the Army and we both served at Fort Benning,Georgia. He couldn’t stop thanking me for my service to the country. I assumed his hearing aids were the result of blowing shit up. Out of the blue, he said “what happened to your face, did you have some kind of a heart attack?” After briefly considering laughing and correcting him that he meant to ask about my stroke, I just told him about the forceps.
It’s really a non-issue for me. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. It hasn’t stopped me from landing a job, making friends, or having children. Actually, that reminds me. There were a few times while holding a toddler (mine or a niece or nephew), that they would inevitably try to mimic my smile. It made me laugh every time!
Everyone has something that makes them unique. Lucky for me, mine also makes me awesome!
All my life I’ve felt like I operate outside of the “normal” of the rest of the world. In a family of 13 siblings, I was a loner. That upbringing is probably the genesis of my ability and desire to sit back and observe what goes on around me, all while seeing the absurdity and humor no matter how bleak.
After a three year stint in the Army and four years in college, I went to work at a major public accounting firm. None of that would lead you to believe I would be operating outside the norm. You don’t do or say anything in the Army unless you want to clean latrines for a living. My college life consisted of being married and driving from Fairfield to Oxford and back again, followed by studying most of the rest of the day. I was a “serious” student! When you think “accountant,” you don’t think “funny accountant.” That’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one! However, I met quite a few “not-normal” accountants over the next few years. I still tried to fit in as best I could.
I didn’t always speak up. When I was young, I was hesitant to say what I was thinking because I didn’t want people to see how weird I was. Today, I have no such qualms! I have absolutely no filter and I will say what I think as soon as I think it. One nickname I had while working as a loan officer was “The Silent Assassin.” When I asked why, the nickname giver said, “you don’t say much, but when you do you come out of nowhere and say some things that hit the bullseye!.”
Nothing I say is meant to hurt, unless I mean to hurt you (which is rare). Sarcasm mixed with a dry sense of humor are tools I’ve honed to a sharp edge. Writing this blog may help you begin to understand how I see the world. It won’t always be abnormal, but I’ll try.